Dubai princess claims she is being held ‘hostage’

The daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler, who attempted to flee abroad in 2018, has appeared in secret recordings claiming she is being held hostage in a “villa converted into a jail” with no access to medical help, according to a BBC documentary.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum — the daughter of United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum — was last seen publicly in March 2018 aboard a yacht off the coast of India before a raid by Indian and Emirati forces took her back to Dubai, according to two people who had helped plan her escape.

In the newly-released videos, that BBC said were filmed around a year after she was captured and returned, she says, “I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail. There’s five policemen outside and two policewomen inside the house. Every day I am worried about my safety and my life.”

In another video, Latifa says her situation is “getting more desperate every day”.

“I don’t want to be a hostage in this jail villa. I just want to be free.”

“If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing, either I’m dead or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation,” she said in that footage, which sparked international concern for her fate.

The new videos include her first account of how her attempt to flee in January 2018, which was years in the making, failed. In an operation planned with a French businessman, Hervé Jaubert, and her martial arts instructor and friend Tiina Jauhiainen, Latifa took a dinghy from the Dubai shore to a US-flagged yacht in international waters.

Eight days later, off India’s west coast, the yacht was stormed by special forces who, Jauhiainen claims, used smoke grenades to force her and Latifa to the deck and detained them at gunpoint.

In the new footage, recorded more than a year after Latifa was returned, she tells of struggling with the soldiers on the boat, “kicking and fighting” and biting a commando’s arm, the BBC said. She says she was tranquillised and passed out as she was being carried to a jet, waking up in Dubai.

In one video, Latifa said she had been imprisoned since she was kidnapped: “No trial, no charge. Nothing.”

She said: “I’m reaching a point where I’m getting so tired of everything. It’s like a circus… I just want to be free. I don’t know what they’re planning on doing with me. The situation is getting more desperate every day.”

The Dubai authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a constituent.

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